The University of Houston
Department of Public Safety (UHDPS) currently monitors 490 security
cameras in their virtual patrol room. These cameras cover
campus parking lots, buildings and high pedestrian traffic areas.
This is an important development, and I would like to explain why
we’re doing it and how it works.
The safety of our campus community is the driving force of UHDPS. Reducing the opportunity for individuals to commit crimes on campus is crucial to providing a safe learning and working environment. This is the primary reason we are implementing a plan to install additional video security cameras in selected areas.
The plan calls for video monitoring of all campus parking lots and other selected areas. We will integrate the existing cameras into the new security camera system and create a single monitoring station staffed by UHDPS personnel. As in the past, we will post highly visible signage informing the public that they may be under video surveillance on campus.
Cameras will record 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. The types of criminal activity the video security system is anticipated to monitor include: 1) assaults and robberies, 2) auto thefts and thefts from a vehicle, and 3) university or personal property damage.
The records generated by the video security camera system will be used exclusively by UHDPS in the event an investigation of criminal activity is required. These records will not be used for the investigation of administrative violations unless that violation also constitutes a criminal act.
The UH community can rest assured that the system will not violate a person’s reasonable expectation of privacy, and cameras will not be installed in restrooms, dressing and locker rooms, living quarters and examining areas in the UH Health Center.
UHDPS also is making the system available to colleges and/or divisions. Deans, chairmen and department administrators may ask the university to install video cameras in their specific buildings or areas. These cameras will be tied into our virtual patrol room. To take advantage of the system, the college, division or department can pay for the camera(s) or submit a request for cameras to the UH Safety and Security Committee.
I am confident that the new video camera security system will enhance our ability to protect faculty, staff, students and visitors. That is the goal of the plan, which was conceived by Bob Wilson, former assistant vice president for public safety and police chief, in late 2003. He recognized the potential of a video camera system for monitoring:
campus parking lots, areas specifically identified by students during the 2003 “Walk in the Dark” as needing more security, key buildings where students indicated the need for more security because of the function or schedule of that area. While the video security camera system will greatly assist UHDPS in our efforts to reduce the opportunity to commit crimes on campus, it does not replace the value and necessity of the campus community in acting as extra ears and eyes. I encourage you to remain cognizant of your surroundings while on campus and report suspicious people and activities.
Assistant Vice President for Public Safety and Security